The hotel at East Avenue and Alexander Street is getting another makeover, and this time it’s bringing a classic name in overnight hospitality with it.
The East Avenue Inn & Suites closed this week and will be torn down to make room for a Courtyard by Marriott that will open late next summer.
While Marriott has been part of the Rochester landscape since the Delmonte Hotel Group opened the Thruway Marriott in 1973, the brand name hasn’t ventured near downtown. That’s one reason the group behind the East Avenue Inn renovation chose the affiliation.
“We decided the Courtyard brand made the most sense,” said Barbara Purvis, president and director of Essex Hotel Management LLC. “It’s an iconic brand within Marriott and it’s a very strong business brand.”
There are 10 Marriott-affiliated hotels in the Rochester area, including Courtyard by Marriotts in Brighton and Penfield. But Purvis said downtown appealed to the chain.
“They will look at how existing properties are operating, the distance of a new hotel to those properties and what brands are in an area,” she said. “Marriott felt comfortable with this location and they had been trying to get downtown.”
The four-story, 126-room hotel will be built where the current nearly 60-plus-year-old hotel stands. City Grill, which occupies the space on the southwest corner of the parcel, will remain intact.
The current hotel owner, John Billone, heads that new investment group that includes Essex Hotel Management as well as Taylor, The Builders of Penfield. Taylor will handle construction. Essex has been managing the East Avenue Inn for Billone.
“We brought in Jim Taylor and Karl Schuler of Taylor, The Builders because they’re tremendously talented design/build people,” Purvis said.
Necessary approvals from the city took time. The original design was rejected in December, with neighbors complaining the look was too contemporary for the aura of the area, since it borders Neighborhood of the Arts. So Silvestri Architects PC of Buffalo created a structure that more closely blends into the neighborhood. Silvestri collaborated with Taylor on its The Legends at Whitney Town Center in Perinton.
The hotel project entered full-steam-ahead mode when Imagine Monroe approved sales and mortgage recording tax exemptions, along with a JobsPlus PILOT, since 18 new jobs are projected.
A big selling point to guests will not only be a new hotel, but the location.
“It’s a great area of downtown in the East End and the Neighborhood of the Arts,” Purvis said. “It’s very walkable and the young and the younger at heart want that accessibility these days. They want to get out and experience the area.”
There will be surface lot parking on the property, along with 33 indoor spaces under the hotel.
Essex manages 14 hotels in six states (New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina and Florida) and has a small ownership share in a few, Purvis said.
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